Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Review - The Sand Warrior

The Sand Warrior (5 Worlds #1)
by Mark Siegel & Alexis Siegel
illustrated by Xanthe Bouma, Matt Rockefeller & Boya Sun
Date: 2017
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Reading level: MG
Book type: graphic novel
Pages: 256
Format: e-book
Source: library

The Five Worlds are on the brink of extinction unless five ancient and mysterious beacons are lit. When war erupts, three unlikely heroes will discover there's more to themselves and more to their worlds than meets the eye....

The clumsiest student at the Sand Dancer Academy, Oona Lee is a fighter with a destiny bigger than she could ever imagine.

A boy from the poorest slums, An Tzu has a surprising gift and a knack for getting out of sticky situations.

Star athlete Jax Amboy is beloved by an entire galaxy, but what good is that when he has no real friends?

When these three kids are forced to team up on an epic quest, it will take not one, not two, but 5 WORLDS to contain all the magic and adventure!

(synopsis from Goodreads)

It looks like I may have found a new graphic novel series to binge on. The Sand Warrior opens up a great big complex world of storytelling possibilities. The worldbuilding and artwork are so well done that I felt completely immersed in the story.

For a middle-grade title, the plot is fairly complex. Oona is a sand dancer, which, as far as I can tell, is some sort of magician who can create and command forms out of sand. She's not a great sand dancer, though, so when it falls to her to help save the world (well, five worlds, actually, but who's counting?) she needs a bit of help. That comes in the form of An Tzu, a chubby little kid with a secret, and Jax Amboy, a celebrity starball player with secrets of his own.

There's a whole mythology built around the worlds, and it's woven seamlessly into the story. Long ago, some creature called the Mimic (who seems analogous to Satan) threatened the worlds. But it was stopped by the Felid gods (who are catlike in appearance... except for the fact that they have six arms). There's this whole plot about the planets dying because there are these beacons that need to be lit by a chosen one; the attitudes around that are reminiscent of the whole climate change argument, with people fighting each other over their beliefs rather than trying to tackle the problem that's staring them right in the face. It's a bit political for a middle-grade book, though it's subtle and I don't know if younger readers will see the parallels or not.

Oona was a good character, even if she was a little bit of a special snowflake. I liked that there was diversity in the way the characters were drawn. There are different types of people populating these worlds, from robots to plant people to humans, but there's variation even among those groups. Oona is drawn as quite curvy (which you notice when she's standing next to some of the other characters); it's nice to have a little more representation of different body shapes, especially in a book for younger readers. Jax Amboy confused me at first, but not for very long; his twist is kind of obvious. An Tzu was one character I found a bit annoying, mainly because of the way he treated Jax. But he has an interesting story of his own, and I kind of want to see how it gets resolved.

The main twist I saw coming from miles away, but that didn't dampen my enjoyment of the story because there were so many other things to wonder about. This is just the first installment of what I assume will probably be five books (that would make sense, anyway), so we're just getting going with the story. I can't wait to find out what happens next to Oona and her friends!

Plot: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Pace: 4/5
Writing & Editing: 4/5
Illustration: 5/5
Originality: 5/5

Enjoyment: 4/5

Overall Rating: 4.25 out of 5 ladybugs

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